2012 March Madness Field of 68 Projections: Dec. 12

Jordan SchwartzSenior Writer IDecember 12, 2011

2012 March Madness Field of 68 Projections: Dec. 12

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    The top two teams in the country went down on Saturday, providing a bit of a shake-up to the top line of my projections, but there's still plenty of time for those squads to climb their way back into contention for the overall No. 1 seed.

    As always, I am not trying to guess how teams will finish the year. I am simply seeding them based on their current résumés.

    I like to break teams down into three categories:

    1. Wallflowers are bubble teams because everyone wants to get into the Big Dance, but not all have the guts to ask a girl out onto the dance floor.

    2. Elite teams that are safely in the field are Dancing with a Hottie.

    3. In the middle are the schools that are Dancing with Their Sister.

    Last year, I had the most accurate bracket projections in the country, correctly predicting 67 of 68 teams and once again finishing way ahead of ESPN's Joe Lunardi.

    I'll begin with the two First Four at-large bid games:

    • (13a) Seton Hall vs. (13d) Ole Miss
    • (13b) Southern Miss vs. (13c) Northern Iowa
    • First 10 teams out: Saint Joseph's, Oklahoma, Washington, Dayton, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Indiana State, Temple, TCU, Richmond

    The projections are presented in slideshow format, with each major conference receiving its own slide. First up is the ACC...

ACC (5)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (1 seed), North Carolina (3)

    Dancing with Their Sister: Florida State (7), Virginia (9)

    Wallflowers: North Carolina State (10), Virginia Tech (sixth team out)

    A No. 3 seed may seem low for UNC, but its one-point loss at Kentucky took a hit in value when the Wildcats lost to Indiana. The Tar Heels are 13th in the RPI and still have that somewhat damaging loss to UNLV on their resume.

    You wouldn't think a win over Norfolk State could help a team climb back toward the bubble, but Va Tech's triumph on Sunday did just that because the Spartans are 42nd in the RPI and hold a nice victory over TCU. They also lost to a non-Division I team last month, but luckily that doesn't count against Norfolk's RPI.

Big East (8)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (1), Louisville (1), Marquette (2)

    Dancing with Their Sister: Georgetown (5), Connecticut (6), Pittsburgh (8)

    Wallflowers: West Virginia (11), Seton Hall (13a)

    Amid all the turmoil associated with the program, Syracuse climbs to the overall No. 1 seed this week, thanks to losses by Kentucky and Ohio State. The 10-0 Orange are third in the RPI and while some like to criticize their schedule, it's currently the 14th-strongest in the country. SU faces its first real road test at NC State on Saturday.

    The 'Cuse welcomes Louisville to the top line this week. The undefeated Cardinals have three top-40 wins over Vandy, Long Beach State and Ohio, and will encounter another resume builder Saturday against Memphis.

    UConn was left with some ground to make up after falling to UCF and nearly suffering the same fate against FSU down in the Bahamas, but the Huskies took a nice leap forward with an impressive 14-point win over a very good Harvard team.

    West Virginia took one at Kansas State before returning home to beat Miami last week. Those two wins pushed the Mountaineers' computer profile to more respectable ground (RPI 50, SOS 49) and got them back in the field.

    Seton Hall earned another top-100 win last week in beating Wake Forest to climb into the field as one of the last teams in. The 8-1 Pirates are 10th in the RPI.

Big Ten (8)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Ohio State (1), Indiana (3), Wisconsin (4), Michigan State (4), Illinois (4)

    Dancing with Their Sister: Purdue (6), Northwestern (9), Michigan (9)

    Wallflowers: Minnesota (fifth team out)

    Ohio State remains a 1-seed despite the loss at Kansas because not only is Allen Fieldhouse one of the toughest places to play in the country, but the Buckeyes were without their best player in Jared Sullinger.

    It doesn't matter what you think about Indiana. The bottom line is that the Hoosiers are 9-0 with wins over Kentucky and at NC State and that is the profile of a 3-seed at this point in the season.

    Michigan State went all the way out to Washington to score its seventh straight win over D-1 competition, an impressive seven-point road victory over Gonzaga.

Big 12 (6)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Baylor (2), Missouri (2), Kansas (3)

    Wallflowers: Texas (11), Kansas State (12), Texas A&M (12), Oklahoma (second team out)

    Kansas State took a big hit with a home loss to West Virginia. The Wildcats do not have great computer numbers (RPI 61, SOS 104) and their best win is over Virginia Tech.

    Oklahoma jumps into the conversation with a top-50 RPI and a 7-1 record that includes only one loss to a good Saint Louis squad.

Pac-12 (3)

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    Dancing with Their Sister: Stanford (7), California (8)

    Wallflowers: Arizona (11), Washington (third team out)

    Cal didn't do much to help its schedule strength by playing No. 284 San Jose State and No. 252 Jackson State last week.

    At 4-4 and with an RPI of 85, it's become impossible to keep Washington in the field. The Huskies just lost back-to-back games to Marquette and Duke, and while there's no shame in dropping those two contests, they've also lost to Saint Louis and Nevada, while beating no one in the top 135.

    Oregon State is removed from consideration after a home loss to Idaho.

SEC (6)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (3), Florida (4)

    Dancing with Their Sister: Alabama (5)

    Wallflowers: Vanderbilt (10), Mississippi State (11), Ole Miss (13d)

    You can't seed Kentucky ahead of an undefeated team it just lost to, so for now, the Wildcats are a 3.

    Alabama's 12-point loss at Dayton drops the Crimson Tide down a peg.

Other Conferences (16)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Xavier (2)

    Dancing with Their Sister: Gonzaga (5), Wichita State (5), UNLV (6), Harvard (6), UCF (7), Murray State (7), Creighton (8), San Diego State (8)

    Wallflowers: Saint Louis (9), Memphis (10), Cleveland State (10), Saint Mary's (12), Denver (12), Southern Miss (13b), Northern Iowa (13c), Saint Joseph's (first team out), Dayton (fourth team out), Indiana State (seventh team out), Temple (eighth team out), TCU (ninth team out), Richmond (10th team out)

    Xavier remained undefeated last week with wins over Butler and Cincinnati, but the end of the game against the Bearcats was marred by a brawl and with games against Long Beach State and Gonzaga coming up, the Musketeers can't afford to be missing players.

    With a win at Memphis on Sunday, undefeated Murray State proclaimed its candidacy for the title of This Year's VCU. The Racers are sixth in the RPI and have also beaten Southern Miss and Dayton.

    Creighton's first loss came at Saint Joseph's on Saturday, propelling the Hawks into contention for a bid.

    Missouri State's loss at home to Oklahoma State drops the Bears from consideration, and TCU's home loss to Nebraska has the Horned Frogs following close behind.

Automatic Bids

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    No. 13 seeds: Long Beach State, Belmont

    No. 14 seeds: Ohio, Norfolk State, VCU, Iona

    No. 15 seeds: Lamar, South Dakota State, College of Charleston, Nevada

    No. 16 seeds: Weber State, Robert Morris, Campbell vs. American, Albany vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff